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McLaren focused on fixing correlation issues
McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale says his team's main focus is getting to the bottom of the discrepancies it is seeing between the data from its in-factory simulations and what is actually happening with its car on track.
After a tricky start to the season, Neale was reluctant to make any predictions about the impact of McLaren's upgrades at this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, but said the long-term goal was to iron out the correlation issues between car and factory.
"In terms of looking forwards, I believe that it is really important we sort out the issues with the car and the correlation," he told the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in. "All of the time that you have got that lingering doubt as to what went wrong where and how we fix it, you have the opportunity for it to arise again."
Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Neale explained the problems McLaren has faced since the start of the year.
"The issues that we have are - I'm speculating - broadly similar to the issues that Ferrari found themselves with last year, which is that you think you've done enough over the winter but you take your car out of the modelling and simulation environment and run it on the circuit and have one of those moments where you think 'That was definitely not to plan'.
"It's hard work digging yourself out of that because over a period of time you've optimised a number of things around the car on a false premise. Step one is finding that false premise and how it crept in, step two is then undoing all the things you've subsequently tuned and optimised around the car. So you can never just pull out the one missing part and put in a new one, that's not the way these things work. We'll see ourselves gradually pull ourselves back from this one."
Neale said the effect of this weekend's upgrades would only be measurable once it becomes clear what the other teams have achieved in the break since the Bahrain Grand Prix.
"Of course the first European race will be an area where everybody else is bringing upgrades as well and our progress will be measured against our competitors," he added. "So I think what we'll do is we'll be cautious at this stage and say that a measure of our progress will be revealed on Saturday afternoon and Sunday when we get a chance to quantify what we've done.
"I'm pleased with the way the team is working, I think we've done a lot of very diligent work, we've had a straight-line test as well to be able to validate some of the information that we have. But we'll be cautious at this stage until we see where we're at. Some things will work, some things won't and we've got a lot more work to do on Fridays as well. I don't see us being able just run the car without a huge degree of upgrades at most Fridays between now and the summer. We'll continue to work very hard at this."